Monday, September 14, 2009

Time of My Life

He was beautiful.

Strong and athletic, sexy and sensitive.

I'd been married a couple of years, but had some serious lust in my heart for this guy.

And now he's dead.

Sure, his dancing was amazing; energetic and sensual, unlike anything I'd seen before. But what really won my heart was his character's vulnerability. The notion that a young man could publicly acknowledge the effect a young woman had on him, inspiring him to try to be a better person.

Don't you love these lines?

...a great partner, who’s not only a terrific dancer, but somebody who’s taught me that there are people willing to stand up for other people, no matter what it costs them. Somebody who’s taught me about the kind of person I wanna be.

The story touched me. It felt so true.

Internet movie database notes the following:

According to a December 2008 interview with Dirty Dancing screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, the characters of Baby and Johnny were both influenced by Bergstein's own biography. Like Baby Houseman, Bergstein came from a liberal Jewish family who visited Catskills resorts during the 1960s; her father was a doctor; and she was nicknamed "Baby" until she was 22 years old. Like Johnny Castle, Bergstein was an skilled "dirty dancer" who learned at house parties and later became an Arthur Murray instructor.

There's no doubt that, for me at least, a big part of the timelessness of this film is its excellent authentic script. Good writing makes a movie. Many reviewers have noted that Patrick Swayze was assured immortality with the line "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." But his physical talent and ability to portray a sweet young man were equally memorable. I remain surprised that he didn't get more roles to show off his acting. I remember his impassioned speech to Baby:

Johnny: No, no. Look, you've gotta understand what it's like, Baby. You come from the streets and suddenly you're up here, and these women, they are throwing themselves at ya, and they smell so good, and they really take care of themselves. I mean, I never knew women could be like that, you know? And they're so rich, they're so goddamn rich, you think they must know about everything. And they're slipping their room keys in my hands, two and three times day, different women. So, here I think I'm scoring big, right? And for a while, you think, hey, they wouldn't be doing this if they didn't care about me, right?
Baby: That-that's alright, I understand. You were just using them, that's all.
Johnny: No, no that's not it. That's the thing, Baby, see it wasn't like that. They were using me.

It's a stunning gender role reversal moment, and Swayze pulls it off brilliantly. It gives a viewer hope that men have emotions too, that they care about something besides just having sex. From what I've read of his personal life, including his 34 year marriage, Swayze truly cared about Lisa Niemi, his wife. I like that.

Patrick Swayze, rest in peace. The angels are gaining a hell of a dance instructor.


Kathy Amen said...

In addition to being a good dancer and actor, he was an alum of my high school. His older sister was in my class and he was there when my sister was. So a special connection for us.

My favorite movie of his has to be Ghost. I cry buckets every time I see it.

A Tired Wife said...

Rest in Peace Patrick.

"Nobody puts Baby in the corner."

Paula said...

brilliant dancer and I had a very soft spot for him too.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Kathy - I need to rent Ghost. I remember it was lovely and sad.

A Tired Wife - I love that his character gave hers confidence. Ah, to be introduced to womanhood by such a man! :)

Paula - thanks for visiting! I really like your blog, but can't figure out that comment form. Someday, I'll become smart. I hope.